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Uber partners Hyundai to develop flying taxi

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SEOUL: US ride-hailing company Uber and South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor have teamed up to develop electric air taxis, joining the global race to make small self-flying cars to ease urban congestion.

Global players like Germany's Daimler, China's Geely Automobile and Japan's Toyota have all unveiled investments in start-ups that aim to deploy electric flying cars capable of vertical take-off and landing.

But there are big technological and regulatory hurdles to the plans.

Uber and Hyundai gave widely different timelines for commercialisation, underlining the challenges.

"We've been making steady progress towards a goal of launching Uber Air by 2023," Mr Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Mr Euisun Chung, executive vice-chairman of Hyundai, expects commercialisation of urban air mobility service in 2028.

Hyundai is the first carmaker to join Uber's air taxi project.

It has unveiled a concept aircraft developed with Uber at CES, with the self-flying electric car designed to carry up to four passengers with a pilot and fly on trips of up to100km.

"The overall cost to produce and operate UAM (urban air mobility) vehicles should be really low enough for everyone to enjoy the freedom to fly," said Hyundai head of urban air mobility division Shin Jai-won. - REUTERS